Most often, we see members of the American Legion around national holidays and at parades. But who are they?

An organization chartered by Congress in 1919, the American Legion was formed as a patriotic veterans group, and its efforts resulted in the formation of the United States Veterans Bureau in 1920. The bureau was the forerunner to what we now know as the Veterans Administration.

The Legion’s influence continued with their primary focus on veterans and how they could be helped. Many received that help when then President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the GI Bill of Rights in 1944. The Bill provided with the means for many returning service people to continue their education and buy homes.

The Legion expanded its services, setting up youth baseball programs, oratorical contests and Boys State, a leadership program. Various local posts, as they are known, have established scholarships as part of their recognition to the younger generation.

The Riverside American Legion post had its beginnings in the early 1900s with two familiar names as early members, Ashley Guthrie and Schofield Gross Sr. The men were friends and had done their service to their country in World War I. Gross received his draft notice from Uncle Sam on his wedding day.

The local post has continued over the years, but is very small in numbers and would like to connect with veterans who would be interested in joining. My source for this information is “Scuffy” Gross whose father was one of the original members (yes Scuffy is “Jr.” but he doesn’t add that to his name).

At present there are approximately 20 members. The Riverside post primarily arranges for the Memorial Day program in Guthrie Park. The program, which has always been a memorable experience, serves as a reminder of how we should be thankful to those who are currently serving and those who have served. Following the program the group gets together informally. According to Gross, it is one of the few times during the year the Riverside post meets. Further information may be obtained by contacting Post Commander Greg Saganich at 708-853-9375 or Scuffy Gross at 708-447-4190.